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Annie Jr. (Twickenham Green)

by on 26 June 2021

Undaunted Daughters

Annie Jr.

music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin

Dramacube, Twickenham Green Cast at Hampton Hill Theatre until 26th June

Review by Eleanor Lewis

“Don’t put your daughter on the stage, Mrs Worthington!” said Noël Coward, though he might have added “unless it’s a Dramacube production”, if he’d been around to see one. 

One of the most (and there are many) satisfying features of Dramacube productions is the level of professionalism consistently on show.  Thursday night’s Twickenham Green cast bowled along at a brisk pace driving forward the story of little orphan Annie, delivering lines, comedy, dance routines and songs with non-showy confidence and quite a lot of skill.  Their seamless move from one particular ensemble scene into the NYC song and dance routine, which involved a very quick change for all, was particularly impressive.  

Two young actors shared the leading role of Annie on Thursday night: Megan Went and Tabitha Gooding.  Both brought out Annie’s self-reliance and personal strength and managed to be endearing in a non-sentimental way despite this being a show drenched in sentiment. 

Emily Mccarthy and Giacomo Frasson, as the opportunists hoping to be taken for Annie’s parents, were suitably louche in their rendition of Easy Street; Gael De Bonnieres’ played a gentle, calm Oliver Warbucks, and  Esme Mcdowell did a great job playing Warbucks’ secretary, the sensible Grace Farrell.  Mathis De Bonnieres, in a probably underrated role, was a very loveable Sandy the dog – I particularly liked the roll-over!

I remain terrified of Ramona Sleight’s Miss Hannigan.  Ms Sleight gave her absolute all to the performance, whilst brilliantly dressed as an eccentric, dangerously unhinged art teacher and made the entire audience grateful we hadn’t been subjected to 1930s childcare in the US.

This was a strong ensemble cast, though and those playing leading and named roles were very well supported by everyone else on stage.

The musical numbers, including the famous Hard Knock Life, were simply but effectively choreographed and worked well and at pace.  Gary Stevenson’s lighting and Dickson Cossar’s sound added greatly to the atmosphere and the simple, largely static set benefited hugely from the New York street scene backdrop. 

Alongside the efficiency, creativity and enthusiasm of Dramacube productions, there is an air of genuine team work and mutual support about the whole company: the action never drags, entrances on and off stage are slick, performers who are actors rather than singers, still sing well enough because they are well trained and clearly feel supported by the team around them.  The confidence this type of training gives to young people, whether or not they continue into the performing arts is invaluable.  Everyone involved deserves credit for this type of enterprise, both the adult production team and the cast on stage.  This is a jolly and very entertaining production

Credit must also be given to the staff at Hampton Hill Theatre for their seamless temperature-checking, NHS check in, and one-way route round the theatre.  It is great to be back in an auditorium !

Eleanor Lewis, June 2021

Photography by Bomi Cooper

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